Currants

Generally black, red and white currants are all grown in a similar manner.

Preparation:

Currants prefer an open sunny position, but will tolerate partial shade.

Leaves can sometimes suffer sunburn with the possibility of plant collapse when the soil or air temperature exceeds 30°C (85°F).

A thick mulch of manure or compost can alleviate this problem by keeping the soil cool in summer plus it adds humus to the soil.

Currants can be grown in most types of soil, but prefer a slightly acid heavy humus rich soil, sandy soils are less suitable because they dry out too fast.

Keep the plants well watered until the fruit is harvested.

At this point they stop active growth and the watering frequency can be reduced.

Plants stressed for water are susceptible to mildew.

When harvesting let the berries hang for about three weeks to colour up if they are to be used fresh for eating.

If the fruits are to be stored, they should be picked dry.

To avoid damaging the fruits, pick a whole sprig by its stem, taking care not to damage the spur.

Some people use scissors to carry out this task!

Planting distances:

Plant out Red and White currants 1.5m (5ft) apart, and Blackcurrants 1.8 (6ft) apart, in rows 1.5m (5ft) apart.

It is essential for the bushes to have light and air, so avoid overcrowding.

This procedure will also help when gathering the fruit.

Pollination:

All currants are fully self-fertile, and also inter-fertile, meaning there is no need to plant more than one plant or one variety for pollination purposes.

Poor pollination is quite common, but this is generally due to frost or cold periods when there are no pollinators around at flowering time.

If this is the case one can use a soft camel haired brush or a rabbit’s tail to assist pollination.

Cultivation

Week 14: Mulch plants with well rotted farmyard manure or home made compost.

Week 31: summer prune Red and White currants by cutting back new laterals (side growth) to leave five or six leaves from the node from which new growth will form.

Red & White currants mostly fruit on second years growth.

Week 36: Prepare ground for new bushes by adding liberal amounts of farmyard manure or any such organic material.

Week 40: Plant out any time from now until March (Week 12).

If not already prepared, cut new plants down to 50-75mm (2"-3") above ground level.

Avoid picking fruit in the first season after planting, and this will allow the bush/s to build up more new growth.

Pruning

Week 40: Prune established Blackcurrant plants by cutting out branches that have just fruited, leaving the strongest young shoots which will carry next year’s fruit.

Annual pruning increases yields and keeps plants manageable.

Cut back laterals (side growths) of Red & White currants to leave three or four dormant buds on each.

Shorten leaders by about one third of their length.

New plants

In the plant's first season cut back all but two or three stems to ground level.

The following year again remove all but two or three that grew the previous season, at which point the bush will have two or three each of one and two-year old stems.

Continue this each season, and by the fourth year you can start cutting away any stems more than three years old down to ground level.

Each year shorten long young stems that have grown too straggley.

Do not prune after spring growth has commenced.

Week 42: Apply 20gm (¾oz) Sulphate of potash per sq.m.

Take hardwood cuttings.





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